Final talks in progress with ANC’s Top Six for Zuma to quit soon
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa is to have one last meeting with President Jacob Zuma to conclude talks that will see the embattled leader leave the Union Buildings by the weekend or early next week.
On Thursday, Zuma’s fate appeared all but sealed after Ramaphosa told the party’s MPs that he had agreed to step down but wanted some issues to be “cleared” before handing in his resignation.
Ramaphosa has cleared his diary for the weekend to deal with Zuma’s departure. And in turn, Zuma would no longer attend the Ubuntu Awards on Saturday – which were in any case called off – marking what appeared to be the end of his stay in office.
Ramaphosa’s behind-closed-doors session with ANC MPs came as pressure continued to mount on Zuma to step down, with opposition parties planning a national shutdown and also demanding a motion of no confidence in Parliament to oust him on Tuesday.
Independent Media spoke to at least seven MPs who attended the caucus meeting in Cape Town and a source in the Presidency regarding Zuma’s future.
They painted a picture of a president winding down his business in preparation for departure in the next few days.
The MPs said Ramaphosa was keen to wrap up the discussions with Zuma by Sunday.
An ANC MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ramaphosa had not divulged the outstanding matters on which Zuma was seeking finality.
“Ramaphosa said Zuma was willing to resign but wanted certain things to be cleared before he could do so. The president (Ramaphosa) did not reveal those things that needed to be cleared.
“The president came to address and just confirmed the events which were detailed by treasurer-general Paul Mashatile in the tape,” the MP added.
In the tape that emerged on Wednesday night, Mashatile told delegates at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town that they wanted Zuma gone.
Mashatile confirmed that Zuma had refused to relinquish power in the meeting with the Top Six leadership on Sunday night, saying he was not going anywhere.
This, Mashatile said, had prompted them to resolve that Zuma should be recalled and the State of the National Address, scheduled for Thursday, cancelled.
The postponed ANC special national executive committee meeting on Wednesday, which came after a meeting between Zuma and Ramaphosa, was going to call for the president to leave the country’s highest office.
“Now people in the country, and maybe all over the world, want to know if we have been talking about the word. We just coined it, ‘managing the transition’, and interestingly, on Sunday evening, President Zuma says to us: ‘What do you guys mean by transition?’
“He said this is a strange word that you guys have just coined. What is this thing you are talking about called transition? And we said to him it’s handing over power to Cyril, but we are managing that,” said Mashatile.
Another ANC MP said Ramaphosa did not want to cut any deal with Zuma on his legal troubles, saying he did not have the authority to grant Zuma immunity from prosecution on the 783 charges of corruption he could face.
“Cyril told us he is not in the business of granting immunity from prosecution. He’s not above the law and has no authority to do so,” added the MP.
Other ANC MPs said Ramaphosa had told them that he and Zuma were “finding each other” and Zuma wished that the departure was handled in such a way that he was not humiliated.
“The thing is that it won’t help to be pushing things and do things in a clumsy way because things could backfire,” said an MP.
A source in the Presidency also said Zuma could be gone by the weekend as he was wrapping up his business.
Earlier, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and chief whip Jackson Mthembu briefed the media in a hastily convened press conference.
Magashule confirmed the discussions between Zuma and Ramaphosa, confirming that there was no fixed date for the conclusion of the process. However, he said the talks would be finalised “in due course”.
Mthembu said he would not comment on the discussions and did not disclose any details of the caucus meeting.
Ramaphosa’s address to the ANC caucus came as opposition parties wrote to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete demanding a motion of no confidence debate in Parliament on Tuesday.
They said they would no longer wait until February 22 because the ANC was refusing to fire Zuma.
Parliament said on Thursday it was continuing with its business despite the postponement of the State of the National Address.